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Egypt: Has the Travis Scott pyramids concert been cancelled?

Egypt’s music syndicate maintains that the concert, one of the biggest in the region, has been called off, but the rapper's promoters argue it is going ahead
US rapper Travis Scott arrives at the 76th Cannes Film Festival in France, on 22 May 2023 (AFP)

When it was announced that American rapper Travis Scott’s album would be launched at the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, it was seen as a milestone event for the entire region.

The concert, titled "Utopia", is set to take place on 28 July and reportedly sold out in 15 minutes.

Fans paid ticket prices ranging from 4,000 Egyptian pounds ($129) to 6,500 Egyptian pounds ($210).

But the excitement turned to confusion when it became unclear as to whether or not the concert would actually go ahead.

Since the announcement, debate has swirled on social media. Will the concert be called off? If it is called off, why? Conflicting statements have been put out on the matter. 

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Despite the ongoing lack of clarity, tickets are reselling online at inflated prices.

Here’s what we know so far.

Musical syndicate revokes permit 

Controversy first broke out when Egypt’s musicians’ syndicate revoked the permit it had issued to Scott.

The decision was based on the ruling that the rapper's music would “contradict the identity of the Egyptian people”, according to a statement published on 18 July.

'Photos and reports showed that Scott [uses his concerts] to hold rituals that contradict with our values and traditions'

Egyptian musicians' syndicate

Despite the concert being supported by the Egyptian Tourism Authority, the syndicate’s president and board said that it had made the decision based on the reaction of Egyptians on social media. Social media users claimed that Scott’s concerts were "satanic".

“Photos and reports showed that Scott [uses his concerts] to hold rituals that contradict with our values and traditions. The [syndicate] thus decided to cancel the licence for the concert, which is not in line with the Egyptian people’s cultural identity,” the statement said, according to local media. 

The syndicate’s statement also said the concert had been cancelled due to crowd management and security reasons. 

“The syndicate is committed to preserving the security and stability of our beloved homeland and rejects any actions that go against its societal values," the statement added.  

On Egyptian national TV, the rapper was widely discussed on talk shows, where he was variously referred to as "masonic", "satanic" and a "devil worshipper".

No changes to concert schedule 

Live Nation, organiser of the concert, responded to the statement by saying that it would still be going ahead. 

On 18 July, Live Nation tweeted that “there have been no changes to Travis Scott’s show in Egypt; any reports to the contrary are false”. 

The tweet added that Live Nation “can’t wait to celebrate ‘Utopia’” in Egypt. 

But the music syndicate has maintained that the show will not go ahead.

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“While the musicians' syndicate has welcomed various art forms and concerts in recent months, it has set conditions and regulations to safeguard the customs and traditions inherited by the Egyptian people,” Mohammed Abdullah, from the syndicate, said in a statement. 

According to the Egyptian state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram, opposition to the show at the pyramids was also related to a fatal crush that took place at a Travis Scott concert in Texas in November 2021.

Questions over the concert, which is set to be one of Egypt’s biggest musical events this year, have even spilled over into the Egyptian parliament. 

On 23 July, an Egyptian member of parliament submitted a parliamentary question to the speaker of the house regarding the show.

The parliamentarian asked if the concert would be going ahead or not, and quizzed the ministers of tourism and local development over the conflicting statements coming out. 

“There is no confirmation from the government whether the concert will be cancelled or held. Why is there no clear statement issued by the concerned authorities regarding the matter?” he asked. 

“If the concert is on time, what are the measures that the ministries of interior, tourism and local development will take to ensure the organisation of this concert and prevention of any violations or accidents as a result of the expected crowding?” he added. 

Refunds and re-sells

While fans have not received any correspondence about the cancellation of the concert, tickets are being resold online at extortionate prices. 

Fans who had booked tickets are using social media platforms such as Twitter (now known as X) and Instagram to sell their tickets.

One social media user was selling his or her ticket for 11,000 Egyptian pounds ($356). 

The official website for the sale of tickets says that no refunds or exchanges will be accepted unless the concert is cancelled or postponed. 

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Earlier this week, the Egypt Independent reported that the managing director of the company selling tickets to the concert appealed to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, calling him to intervene and allow the concert to be held. 

With only a few days left until the concert date, Ticketsmarche, which is involved in its organisation, has said that cancelling it would result in losses of around 300m Egyptian pounds ($9.7m). 

The company’s managing director, Mohamed Serag, told local media that he doesn't know whether the concert is going ahead, as the equipment and teams accompanying the rapper were not allowed to enter the pyramids area.

The concert is due to be broadcast live to around 200 million people, and is seen as a milestone achievement for Egyptian tourism, which has recorded a slump in recent years. 

While there is debate as to whether Egypt’s music syndicate has the power to cancel concerts, in the past it has banned the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila from performing in Egypt after a fan unfurled a rainbow flag at their 2017 Cairo concert. 

The syndicate has also clamped down on Mahraganat music, temporarily banning it and revoking permits of artists who play this genre, which was established during the 2011 revolution. 

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